It’s just over 6 months until the UK is due to leave the EU following the Brexit decision back in 2016. There’s no doubt that divorce from our European partners has been fraught with controversy and huge challenges. It’s not a complete surprise that we still don’t quite understand what is going to happen next March.
While the lower pound has encouraged people to stay at home and vacation in the UK, as well as bringing in more overseas tourists, for the hospitality industry Brexit presents a certain unique challenges.
There’s the ongoing stagnation in wages that is stifling the amount customers have to spend in pubs and restaurants across the country. Accessing enough workers is also a problem. Bigger issues may yet be around the corner if we create a situation where there is greater economic as well as political uncertainty.
Hospitality in the UK has long depended on waiters, managers and chefs coming across from the EU. This is a major concern of many business owners, particularly hotels and restaurants in major cities like London where 75% of waiting staff are from Europe.
According to sources, we depend on more than 700,000 European workers and immigration policy post-Brexit is going to be a defining issue for the industry. What happens if bars and restaurants can’t get the staff they’re looking for?
While the full impact is still not certain, many in hospitality are already looking towards increasing home recruitment for a whole range of staff. Home grown hospitality workers who want to take advantage of Brexit and are willing to take charge of their own professional development, however, face a more positive and exciting time. It could also be a good time for those who want to join the industry for the first time.
Not all the challenges that the hospitality industry faces are so easily controlled. The prospect of a messy Brexit has the potential to create political uncertainty followed by an economic downturn. A volatile situation will undoubtedly have a huge impact on businesses like hotels and restaurants if people suddenly need to tighten their belts. Of course, this is the doomsday scenario that is presented by a no deal Brexit. Most are hoping we don’t go down this road. Hospitality is one of the most robust sectors in the UK economy and has been thriving for many years.
Many restaurants, bars and hotels source produce from abroad, particularly the EU. Brexit does raise the possibility of higher costs for importing things like wine, cheese and specialist meats from the EU if no clear trade arrangement is reached. This may well lead businesses to look at sourcing home grown produce and could well have a positive impact on food and wine production locally.
While this will be a challenging time for hospitality, as it is for other businesses in the UK, it’s not all doom and gloom. If you work in the industry and want to progress, post-Brexit delivers plenty of potential to drive your career forward. For businesses, it’s a case of making the necessary adjustments including when it comes to employing staff.
While some industries are looking forward to Brexit with trepidation, hospitality is probably better equipped than most to face the challenges ahead. That should give at least some confidence to those who are forging careers in the industry.
Here at Hospitality Post, we are working hard to close the skills gap, promoting easy ways for hospitality brands and workers to connect. We are also permitting businesses to post Apprenticeships for free. We believe this will introduce new blood into the industry; doing our bit to close the skills gap.